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U.S. Navy ships often face risks of attack when going through narrow passages such as the Suez Canal or the Hormuz strait. Protecting itself against the possibility of airborne risks, the navy introduced its new counter-drone system known as the Light Marine Air Defense Integrated System, or LMADIS. The system was actively scanning the sky for small drones that could pose a threat to the ship, according to marinecorpstimes.com.
The use of the small counter-drone system on the Navy ship highlights the military’s growing concern regarding the proliferation of drone technology and the threat it poses to even heavily armed American warships as they continue to operate in choke points and narrow waterways around the globe.
The proliferation of drone technology to organizations hostile to US forces exacerbates this threat, especially as the technology in small commercial drones weighing under 55 pounds is moving at light speed, and the ranges of these systems are rapidly expanding.
In August 2017, the U.S. Navy had two encounters within just a week span with Iranian drones and American aircraft operating from the carrier Nimitz, which the Navy said was too close.
Another report detailed that an Iranian drone flew within 100 feet of Navy F/A-18, forcing the American aircraft to take evasive measures.
The LMADIS is a relatively newcomer in the Corps’ growing arsenal of counter-drone capabilities.
The system is comprised of two Polaris MRZR all-terrain vehicles. One MRZR serves as a command vehicle and the other is a sensor platform.
The LMADIS is capable of detecting, identifying, tracking and blasting small drones out of the sky using electronic attack.
The counter-drone system embarked with the 22nd MEU (marine expeditionary unit) is not the vehicle’s deployment debut. The LMADIS is also currently deployed with the 13th MEU.
A US Navy official said the use of the LMADIS during the Suez transit was not meant to replace any of the ship’s existing capabilities, but merely to provide additional security to the ship’s defense systems.